Topic: Aid

Evil Donors and ‘The Literature’: Is there a problem with the way academics write about aid?

Since I dipped my toe in the waters of academia, I’ve been struck by two things: firstly, the number of my new colleagues (especially the political scientists and anthropologists) who appear convinced that aid is essentially evil – a neo-imperialist plot to defend the status quo. Secondly the way people use the phrase ‘The Literature’, […]

Read More »

Aid’s fragile state problem – why is it so hard to even think about?

I’ve spotted a recurring problem with the way the aid sector talks about fragile and conflict-affected states (FCAS). FCAS are characterized by states that are either absent or predatory – in terms of development, governments and officials are as likely to be part of the problem as part of the solution. But the aid sector, […]

Read More »

Who wants to be a Volunteer? Book Review

An estimated 10 million people will head from North to South this year as volunteers, seeking a mix of adventure, altruism and self improvement. Volunteering is big (a $2bn industry), but is it beautiful? Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad, a 350 page tome aimed at informing and guiding would-be volunteers, left me […]

Read More »

Payment by Results: what is the Evidence from the First Decade?

Paul Clist, who actually seems to enjoy reading project documents, introduces his new paper on Payment by Results, a popular new aid mechanism (see also his 2016 post on the same topic). In a new paper, I argue that despite its public support for the idea, DFID hasn’t really tried Payment by Results, at least […]

Read More »

Is Flying the new Smoking? If so, should aid workers stop flying?

Guest post from Dorothea Hilhorst of the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University. She suggested this just after I had got off a plane to Mexico, so I figured I had to publish it…. Update: this post has generated so much interest that we’ve put up an opinion poll here – please complete […]

Read More »

How Aid has helped Pakistan’s Women’s Movement achieve Political Breakthroughs

Guest post from Ayesha Khan of the Collective for Social Science Research in Karachi Do aid dollars help or hinder the women’s movement? In Pakistan, there are advocates of both points of view. I believe that my recent research as part of the Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) programme has gathered enough evidence to […]

Read More »

I need a survival guide for conferences. Anyone got one?

I go to quite a few academic conferences and to be honest, they sometimes make me fear for my sanity. Mood swings; weird rages against people (OK, men) who insist on stating the blindingly obvious at great length, in obscure academic jargon; a twitchy need to check emails and twitter feed every few minutes; sudden enthusiasms […]

Read More »

Putting Gender into Political Economy Analysis: why it matters and how to do it

Guest post by Emily Brown of Oxfam GB (left), and Rebecca Haines (right) and Tam O’Neil of CARE International UK. For many development professionals, political economy has become the gold standard of foundational analysis for programming. It helps us to understand how power and resources are distributed in a society or sector and is important for […]

Read More »

Whither Large International Non-Governmental Organisations? Smart new paper.

I’m glad to see Penny Lawrence, an Oxfam big cheese for 12 years before she resigned so publicly last February, has been busy reflecting and talking to other leaders (and me) about how large lumbering INGOs need to change. She has put together a useful paper on the topic (a source of endless fascination to INGOs, […]

Read More »

Which Devspeak horror words topped the poll + some v interesting comment threads

It was only intended as a bit of Friday fun, but last week’s post on which devspeak words you would most like to ban generated such interesting comments that it warrants a follow up. First up, the people have spoken. After 500 votes, ‘beneficiaries’ and ‘the field’ are the clear joint winners in the hall […]

Read More »

Which awful Devspeak words would you most like to ban? Your chance to vote on the Terrible Ten

Ann Huddock of Counterpart got in touch recently to discuss the idea of a post on how much she hates the word ‘empowerment’ (she’s banned it in Counterpart comms). In the end, we decided that the word had already got enough criticism, but I put out a tweet asking people to nominate other devspeak words […]

Read More »

Should Positive Deviance be my next Big Thing?

I’ve been mulling this over for a while now, and thought I’d consult the FP2P hivemind, following a few initial conversations, including one earlier this week with Oxfam’s Irene Guijt and some PD fans at the Said Business School (here’s their rather good report of a PD conference back in 2010, from which I nicked […]

Read More »